Thursday, February 16, 2012

DOS Commands

It's hard to believe that this used to be our operating
system. Here's some of the things we had to do just to
perform simple tasks by the standards of today. With the new operating systems out, DOS has been on the decline, but some people still need it.

ADDUSERS Add or list users to/from a CSV file
ARP Address Resolution Protocol
ASSOC Change file extension associations
ASSOCIAT One step file association
AT Schedule a command to run at a later time
ATTRIB Change file attributes
BOOTCFG Edit Windows boot settings
BROWSTAT Get domain, browser and PDC info

CACLS Change file permissions
CALL Call one batch program from another
CD Change Directory - move to a specific Folder
CHANGE Change Terminal Server Session properties
CHKDSK Check Disk - check and repair disk problems
CHKNTFS Check the NTFS file system
CHOICE Accept keyboard input to a batch file
CIPHER Encrypt or Decrypt files/folders
CleanMgr Automated cleanup of Temp files, recycle bin

CLEARMEM Clear memory leaks
CLIP Copy STDIN to the Windows clipboard.
CLS Clear the screen
CLUSTER Windows Clustering
CMD Start a new CMD shell
COLOR Change colors of the CMD window
COMP Compare the contents of two files or sets of files
COMPACT Compress files or folders on an NTFS partition
COMPRESS Compress individual files on an NTFS partition
CON2PRT Connect or disconnect a Printer
CONVERT Convert a FAT drive to NTFS.
COPY Copy one or more files to another location
CSCcmd Client-side caching (Offline Files)
CSVDE Import or Export Active Directory data

DATE Display or set the date
Dcomcnfg DCOM Configuration Utility
DEFRAG Defragment hard drive
DEL Delete one or more files
DELPROF Delete NT user profiles
DELTREE Delete a folder and all subfolders
DevCon Device Manager Command Line Utility
DIR Display a list of files and folders
DIRUSE Display disk usage
DISKCOMP Compare the contents of two floppy disks
DISKCOPY Copy the contents of one floppy disk to another
DNSSTAT DNS Statistics
DOSKEY Edit command line, recall commands, and create macros
DSADD Add user (computer, group..) to active directory DSQUERY List items in active directory
DSMOD Modify user (computer, group..) in active directory

ECHO Display message on screen
ENDLOCAL End localisation of environment changes in a batch file
ERASE Delete one or more files
EXIT Quit the CMD shell
EXPAND Uncompress files
EXTRACT Uncompress CAB files

FC Compare two files
FDISK Disk Format and partition
FIND Search for a text string in a file
FINDSTR Search for strings in files
FOR /F Loop command: against a set of files
FOR /F Loop command: against the results of another command
FOR Loop command: all options Files, Directory, List
FORFILES Batch process multiple files
FORMAT Format a disk
FREEDISK Chec k free disk space (in bytes)
FSUTIL File and Volume utilities
FTP File Transfer Protocol
FTYPE Display or modify file types used in file extension associations
GLOBAL Display membership of global groups
GOTO Direct a batch program to jump to a labelled line

HELP Online Help
HFNETCHK Network Security Hotfix Checker

IF Conditionally perform a command
IFMEMBER Is the current user in an NT Workgroup

KILL Remove a program from memory

LABEL Edit a disk label
LOCAL Display membership of local groups
LOGEVENT Write text to the NT event viewer.
LOGOFF Log a user off
LOGTIME Log the date and time in a file

MAPISEND Send email from the command line
MEM Display memory usage
MD Create new folders
MKLINK Create a symbolic link (linkd)
MODE Configure a system device
MORE Display output, one screen at a time
MOUNTVOL Manage a volume mount point
MOVE Move files from one folder to another
MOVEUSER Move a user from one domain to another
MSG Send a message
MSIEXEC Microsoft Windows Installer
MSINFO Windows NT diagnostics
MSTSC Terminal Server Connection (Remote Desktop Protocol)
MUNGE Find and Replace text within file(s)
MV Copy in-use files

NET Manage network resources
NETDOM Domain Manager
NETSH Configure network protocols
NETSVC Command-line Service Controller
NBTSTAT Display networking statistics (NetBIOS over TCP/IP)
NETSTAT Display networking statistics (TCP/IP)
NOW Display the current Date and Time
NSLOOKUP Name server lookup
NTBACKUP Backup folders to tape
NTRIGHTS Edit user account rights

PATH Display or set a search path for executable files
PATHPING Trace route plus network latency and packet loss
PAUSE Suspend processing of a batch file and display a message
PERMS Show permissions for a user
PERFMON Performance Monitor
PING Test a network connection
POPD Restore the previous value of the current directory saved by PUSHD
PORTQRY Display the status of ports and services
PRINT Print a text file
PRNCNFG Display, configure or rename a printer
PRNMNGR Add, delete, list printers set the default printer
PROMPT Change the command prompt
PsExec Execute process remotely
PsFile Show files opened remotely
PsGetSid Display the SID of a computer or a user
PsInfo List information about a system
PsKill Kill processes by name or process ID
PsList List detailed information about processes
PsLoggedOn Who's logged on (locally or via resource sharing)
PsLogList Event log records
PsPasswd Change account password
PsService View and control services
PsShutdown Shutdown or reboot a computer
PsSuspend Suspend processes
PUSHD Save and then change the current directory

QGREP Search file(s) for lines that match a given pat tern.

RASDIAL Manage RAS connections
RASPHONE Manage RAS connections
RECOVER Recover a damaged file from a defective disk.
REG Registry: Read, Set, Export, Delete keys and values
REGEDIT Import or export registry settings
REGSVR32 Register or unregister a DLL
REGINI Change Registry Permissions
REM Record comments (remarks) in a batch file
REN Rename a file or files.
REPLACE Replace or update one file with another
RD Delete folder(s)
RDISK Create a Recovery Disk
RMTSHARE Share a folder or a printer
ROBOCOPY Robust File and Folder Copy
ROUTE Manipulate network routing tables
RUNAS Execute a program under a different user account
RUNDLL32 Run a DLL command (add/remove print connections)

SC Service Control
SCHTASKS Create or Edit Scheduled Tasks
SCLIST Display NT Services
ScriptIt Control GUI applications
SET Display, set, or remove environment variables
SETLOCAL Control the visibility of environment variables
SETX Set environment variables permanently
SHARE List or edit a file share or print share
SHIFT Shift the position of replaceable parameters in a batch file
SHORTCUT Create a windows shortcut (.LNK file)
SHOWGRPS List the NT Workgroups a user has joined
SHOWMBRS List the Users who are members of a Workgroup
SHUTDOWN Shutdown the computer
SLEEP Wait for x seconds
SOON Schedule a command to run in the near future
SORT Sort input
START Start a separate window to run a specified program or command
SU Switch User
SUBINACL Edit file and folder Permissions, Ownership and Domain
SUBST Associate a path with a drive letter
SYSTEMINFO List system configuration

TASKLIST List running applications and services
TIME Display or set the system time
TIMEOUT Delay processing of a batch file
TITLE Set the window title for a CMD.EXE session
TOUCH Change file timestamps
TRACERT Trace route to a remote host
TREE Graphical display of folder structure
TYPE Display the contents of a text file

USRSTAT List domain usernames and last login

VER Display version information
VERIFY Verify that files have been saved
VOL Display a disk label

WHERE Locate and display files in a directory tree
WHOAMI Output the current UserName and domain
WINDIFF Compare the contents of two files or sets of files
WINMSD Windows system diagnostics
WINMSDP Windows system diagnostics II WMIC WMI Commands

XCACLS Change file permissions
XCOPY Copy files and folders

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Apogee always released good flying shooter types. This one follows in the wake of Major Stryker, Raptor, and Zone 66. On the market in 1996, it features fast-paced action, good replayability and good graphics, all with an unrelenting difficulty that's sure to have you cursing your way through the first episode on the easiest difficulty. Tip: When you're at the buy screens, press F2 to save your game. Make a save for each level so that you can come back if you mess something up. You'll be glad you did.
Gameplay: 7/10
Fly your ship through a 2D plane of explosions, spaceships, and extra explosions collecting powerups, credits and points. Unique, no, simple, yes, but it does feature a buy screen where you can purchase upgrades to your ship and get it working the way you want. You can stack two extra guns of your choice, two orbiting moons that do various things, and install engines to keep your speed up. All of these features become apparently necessary, as you're not going to get anywhere without upgrading. Once you beat the stage, you face a boss, which is usually just some unimaginative spaceship with some weak points you've gotta hit.
Graphics: 9/10
 They're real good and they work very fast. Everything flying around you gives a great feeling of chaos and it takes a fine-tuned player to get used to its insanity. The enemies look good, the levels are okay, and your ship changes as you upgrade it. Cool. The enemies and bosses could have been cooler though, minus a point.

Sound: 8/10
There's some rockin' digitized music, entertaining digitized speech, and a punch of pew-pews. It does add a lot to the overall experience. Repetitive after a while, so I'm dockin' 2 points.

Overall: 8/10
It's an awesome addition to your freeware collection. You'll be playing it again and again as you discover the best weapon combinations for your play style. The story doesn't exactly keep you feeling gripped, but it does give you some sort of premise as to what the hell you're doing on this planet. Apogee went and gave the game away for free starting in 2005, which is quite generous of them, considering how great the game is. Check out the link below for some more information on a great game that time forgot!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Command and Conquer: Red Alert

 Real-time strategy games are some of my favorite on the list, and this game is probably the first one I played. It came out in 1996, paving the way for an awesome game series that rocks worlds to this day. In C&C, your most basic objective is to construct a base, train an army, and whoop your opponents sorry Soviet ass. It also features an intriguing solo campaign as either Soviets or Allies, requiring you to complete various missions. Personally, I just play the skirmish modes against a bunch of AIs, and even to this day, it's a great RTS game.
 Gameplay: 8/10
It's simple, really. Drag and click to select a bunch of units and send them over to your opponent. On the right is the construction bar, which you'll be scrolling through a lot. You need to build power plants so you can harvest this stuff that you'll turn in to money so you can purchase tanks and stuff. It seems to lack certain functions that would have been nice, such as waypoints or group formations. -2 pointaroos.
 Graphics: 7/10
Although everything is small and underdetailed, you'll end up being wowed at the amount of units, explosions and gunfire. The maps are good, but the cutscenes look pretty weird. It's a little easy to lose your units sometimes thanks to them being so small, -3 points for that and the fact that it's hard to distinguish units, sometimes.
 Sound: 7/10
In these games, sound is very important, as it alerts you to if something is happening on the map that you're not currently viewing. You can tell a lot of work went into the sounds in this game, and they did a really great job. It does get a little repetitive, you're going to hear "training training training unable to comply, building in progress training training" -3 points for ouchies on the ears.
Overall: 8.5/10
It's an awesomely entertaining RTS, with a strong focus on action and speed of gameplay. 12 solid years after its release, Electronic Arts purchased the rights to the game and graciously made it freeware. So get your war on, this is one of the best free games in history.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shareware Saturday: The Hugo Series

At the time, these games were the staple of family-friendly gaming, and to this day, everybody knows of them. We're talking Hugo and his stupid little house of horrors, which had four games altogether; Hugo's House of Horrors, Hugo 2: Whodunit?, Hugo III: Jungle of Doom, and the ever-fabled Nitemare 3D. The first three are graphical text adventures, you walk around typing stuff like "open door" or "take candle". It's not exactly that easy, though, as the games force you to do stuff like "give steak to dog" or whatever. Nitemare though, it's in a whole different element, in the exact same story line. It's a first-person shooter/puzzle sort of thing similar to Wolfenstein 3D or Ken's Labyrinth. Let's get down to business. 

Hugo's House of Horrors
This game features Hugo, but it's not really his house. You see, his girlfriend got jacked, so he's going to inspect every freaking corner of this haunted-ass house to find her. While inside, he gets experimented on by a mad scientist with a retarded monster assistant, interrupts a dinner between vampires, mummies, and werewolves, and steals everything in sight. The puzzles in this game are pretty stiff and sometimes random, so a walkthrough is essential, unless you like grinding your gearbox brain sitting at 256 colors with some beeps emitting from your PC every now and then. Hugo has a tendency to walk in the same direction, so you have to get used to that. You can't always rely on the graphics to tell you what to do, you'll have to use "look around" quite often to discover clues. The game itself is fairly small, which means you'll end up in the same area often, trying to figure out what in the hell you're supposed to be doing. That's the game. Never got very far.

Hugo II: Whodunit?
In this one, Hugo and his girlfriend are staying at a relatives house, whereupon Hugo discovers a secret door and disappears. Then, Penelope (Hugo's woman) sees her uncle get murdered. You control Penelope, since Hugo got his dumb ass stolen, and you have to wander around this place and figure stuff out. It's basically the same thing as the first game, only more frustrating, because it's more spread out. Some of the best parts of these games are getting instantly killed, a lot. You're forced to really do things right, or else it's going to have some dire consequences. Nobody wants to have to restart the game, so make sure you're saving before you do practically everything. There's some pretty good graphical scenes in this game, and some others that look like a child drew them. Either or, it didn't spark my attention enough, so I gave the hell up.

Hugo III: Jungle of Doom
While Penelope and Hugo were flying over a jungle, they crashed their plane and somehow avoided dying, even though everything else in the world kills them. When they go look for assistance, Penelope gets bitten by a poisonous spider, which causes her to be paralyzed until Hugo can get some antidote. Commence Hugo's adventure in the Jungle of Doom. Seemingly crawling through the jungle, Hugo meets a ghost, an elephant, and a bunch of black people that probably want to cook and eat his ass.
This game seems to have more death traps than the others, making it both fun and extremely frustrating. On top of that, everything is boards apart, and Hugo's got a lot of trecking to do. This game has nice graphics and everything is pretty easy to understand, just avoid this dickass witch doctor, he's going to lock you up in a cage and experiment on you. I know, it seems to be some strange fantasies within the creator of this game, but lets not get in to that. David P. Gray also released a first person shooter version of these games.

Nitemare 3-D
First person shooters can be a blast, if they're done right. When they're done wrong, however, you wind up grinding your teeth for an hour as you try to redeye your way through a game like this. Nitemare 3-D is indeed, a nightmare of a game. First thing you do is grab a gun and wander your way through what looks like a movie theater, only funeral tunes are playing. Mummies and zombies and shit will grunt at you from around corners, or skeletons and bats will come and take you out. Oh, wait, what's the backstory to this game? After going in to the menu to answer my own question, I discovered that Penelope was jacked and Hugo needs to save her. Again. I think Hugo needs to get a new woman that's going to stop running around on him, giving him a bad groove and shit. This game was entirely too tedious for me and I stopped playing within 10 minutes. There's lots of secret areas I found out, but what I didn't discover is what anything did, or where the hell I was going.

What is boils down to is this; These games are still shareware, meaning you're going to need to pay for the full versions. The final game was released in 1994, and it's still being sold to this moment by the author, Dave Gray. After all of the wonderful free games I've posted, the ones with the least sentimental value and charm continue to be the absolute worst games on the list. David P. Gray, you should consider going freeware so everyone can experience the magic that is Hugo. Let's not forget to mention that he calls these games "for the whole family", and the second one features Uncle getting killed. Thanks. It's also going to cost you $22 if you want to play the full version of these games. Not like it matters, nobody is going to play it if it's free or not.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Elder Scrolls Chapter One: Arena

 The first of the Elder Scrolls series, developed in 1994 by everybody's favorite, Bethesda Softworks, Arena is an open-world first-person RPG similar to it's early predecessor, Ultima Underworld, only much more immense. This game still strikes me as one of the most difficult of all time, mainly due to it's overwhelming capacity and lack of navigation. It's still not bad, and it is very similar to a more recent game, Skyrim.

Getting the game to work/Understanding it: 4/10
Simply put, this game runs like crap under the default settings in DOSBox. The user is going to need to press CTRL+F12 a bunch until they reach about 20000 cycles. Once you've found your speed niche, it becomes much more playable. You're going to start off in a moist dungeon filled with rats and goblins. Move around with the arrow keys, or by clicking the direction with your mouse. You can find your inventory by clicking your face and hitting next. Later, this becomes a giant pain in the ass, but for right now you should just equip your weapon. Press the swords button to draw your weapon, then hold right-click and move your mouse around to attack. One more thing, you're going to be asked some questions from the manual in true oldgame anti-piracy fashion, so here's the list to those. Now, we can begin.

Gameplay: 7½/10
The first dungeon might prove to be too hard for many beginning players, especially with the awkward scheme they've implemented. Moving around is pretty tough, and you are prone to being attacked from behind quite often. You'll have to rest and save frequently, because dying is taken quite literally. Once you get the hang of things, the game becomes a lot of fun as you move around the world, gathering information and doing jobs and the like. Still, you have to listen very carefully some times, as the journal doesn't provide you with much of anything, and the map you have to tag all by yourself. Sometimes you'll get attacked at random in a town, so always be prepared. At this point, you can see that it is definitely the first Elder Scrolls game, but where in the hell does the title "Arena" come in? I'll get back to that, for now, -2½ points for not telling me what to do very well.

Graphics: 6/10
Understandably, this game is very large, and it's only 1994, so it's not going to exactly "excel" in the graphics department. While it's perfectly playable as a game, it's almost impossible to tell where you're going sometimes, as there's a thick fog covering anything within 20 feet of you. There's a multitude of 2D sprites like trees, fountains and people, never changing their plane of existence, always stuck in their limited dimension. However, the cutscenes are pretty good, the textures are pretty nice, and there's a lot of other things that strike my interest like how it changes from day to night. Pretty cool stuff. -4 points overall, though.

Sound: 7/10
Very atmospheric, the game really helps get you along with nice music and lots of sound effects. I wish that sometimes there was some talking though, -3 points for me being dissatisfied.

Overall: 7¼/10 
 Why is this game called Arena, anyway, I haven't come across any sort of gladiator-fighting or coliseums or nothing. Oh, it's because they rebuilt this game from an old project, adding in RPG elements and the like, only to scrap the original Arena gameplay, and still to leave the title. That doesn't make any sense. Either way, if you're a Skyrim fan, you should be checking this out, Bethesda graciously gives it out for free from their website. You'll probably spend a good moment on it, and experience gaming history as it once was.

Links: - Download Elder Scrolls Chapter One: Arena - Arena Player's Guide

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Caves of Thor

 There's been some games that annoy me. Some are new, some are old, but they usually have one thing in common, and that's me saying "I'm never playing this game again". Caves of Thor, though, man, it's on a whole different level of that phrase. Caves of Thor is like, almost the meaning of it. The epitome of my catchphrase, "I'm never playing this game again". It makes you think that if you ever went back to 1990, all there would be is Caves of Thor and we'd all be playing horrible PC games, but luckily that's not the case. This game was invented by Todd Replogle, who later became one of Duke Nukem 3D's lead programmers, and this is also the first title Apogee picked up that wasn't created by one of them. Let me explain this abomination a little bit more.

 Sound: 0/10
The first thing you will do is press the S key to turn off the sound, unless you were like me (who didn't see that to begin with) and just sat there listening to the worst-ever PC speaker orchestra. I'm serious, something is wrong with this game's music, it's absolutely nervewracking. All the points, gone.

Graphics: 1/10
Some miserable attempt at anything that resembles a crap is what you get with this one. You're going to need to decypher the games cryptic code of ASCII objects that are supposed to either be items, enemies, or doorways. There's a lot of nothing spectacular, -9 fat ones.

Gameplay: 1/10
The controls can be summed up to the equivalent of running a marathon in molasses. They're just that sticky. The screen can't even catch up with your smiley warrior when he's moving. Make sure that you're aiming in the correct direction, then press space to attack enemies with your exploding spear or something. If you try to throw more than one, your current one will disappear in mid-flight, so don't do that. You're going to need to find shields, potions, and keys to get to the next area. I got extremely frustrated in what I guess was a river, trying to fight my way against the current because I couldn't see anywhere else to go. -9 and don't whine.

Overall: 1/10
Basically, this game gets one point overall because it's a game. Other than that, it's a pretty horrible creation that probably should have never seen the light of day. Some people may like it, and my rebuttal is this: PLAY ZZT INSTEAD if you're looking for ASCII graphics and top-down gameplay. When I was playing this game, I noticed that you say "Oops" if you shoot a wall. This leads me to believe that, possibly, this is where Duke Nukem's "Where is it?" was created. It's even more credible when you consider who made the game. I could probably ramble on and on about how bad this game is, maybe so that you don't have to play it, or maybe so that we can learn from some of the fatal flaws of gaming. Give it a shot, it's free, but in the menu it says the source code is available for $199.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

DOSBox: A Quick Tutorial

DOSBox is an x86 based DOS emulator that will allow you to play many of the games I've posted. The majority of these games came around when DOS was still being used, and it's difficult to get some of them to run on a newer computer, say Windows XP or Windows 7. Using this program you'll effectively be able to run DOS applications on a Windows, MacOS, or Linux based computer.

Step 1: Save your games in the same place, say, c:\dosgames. This way, it's much easier to navigate your folder with DOSBox, especially when you're not used to running DOS.

Step 2: Open DOSBox. You should end up with a Z:\ prompt. Type "mount c c:\dosgames". Doing this allows the program to recognize your games folder as a valid hard disk. Now you can switch to the mounted drive by typing "c:\". DOSBox will switch to the new base directory, which is your games folder.

Step 3: Type "dir" or "dir/w". You'll see your list of folders that the games are stored in. Pick one you like, and type "cd foldername". Remember to replace foldername with the actual name of the folder. Quick tip, you can usually just type the first few letters of the folder and hit TAB, like "cd foldTAB", for quick access. Nicely done.

Step 4: Find the executable file, or .exe, to start the game. You'll need to use "dir/w" again to find it. Once you do, just type "gamename.exe". Whatever you're running should boot up in an instant and you'll be flying high in the DOS sky. Pressing ALT+Enter will fullscreen the program. Play your game for a while, when you exit you should return to the prompt.

Step 5: Insert the command "cd.." to go back to the last folder. CD means Change Directory, so you use that to hop around folders. The DIR command, as you've probably figured out, shows the contents of a directory. Note that these are very basic instructions and some things might require a little tweaking to get running properly. You should consult the DOSBox manual for more information on increasing framerates and such.

Edit 01-21-2012: Expert Excrement Expeditor recently informed me that you can drag and drop the .exe file straight to the shortcut in Windows. It will automatically mount the drive as the folder the game is in. If you type "exit" you can get out and drag another shortcut when you want to play another game. Thanks
Have fun guys!

Xenophage: Alien Bloodsport

 Apogee and Argo games threw this game on the market in December of 1995, following the wake and popularity of Mortal Kombat II in the arcades. As we all know, DOS wasn't the best platform to create a fighting game, but many did it anyways, despite the facts: Arcades/consoles owned the fighting genre, PC gaming just wasn't as popular. Xenophage, taken literally, is like eating aliens, or something. I guess it's a pretty fitting title then, let's see how this game holds up!
 Gameplay: 7/10
Wow. It's fast, easy to control, and pretty fun. I even got some combos down and learned some special moves, which are things like lame projectiles of acid from your weird, alien mouth. You whoop ass and it looks like you're given the opportunity to "finish" your opponent, but I didn't get around to any of that. Played through the game on easy mode, which is saying a lot, because usually with a PC fighting game I just get pissed and rage quit. I even went and hooked up my gamepad for when I played normal mode, which was just dandy. Still, there isn't really any story progression or character involvement, such as in One Must Fall: 2097. I'm going to take away 3 points because of that, but otherwise, this game gets a good rating.

Graphics: 8/10
The best thing about this game is how the camera moves around so much, zooming in and out depending on how close or far away your opponent is. Sometimes the characters look like they're the size of the screen, and it's pretty cool, because they're well detailed and generally fun to look at. I mean, geez, look at these odd alien creations, chewing on eachother and stabbing one another. The two human characters are out of place, in my opinion. The scrolling backgrounds have multiple levels of animation to them, and it adds a nice overall effect. I just don't like the menu screens, character selection screens, or the prefight screens. They could have done better there, -2 points.

 Sound: 5/10
Some annoying synth music will keep you occupied as you hear some digital punches and bites. The announcer does speak a lot, which is good, but it's missing the wailing and screaming of some other notable fighting games. -5 points for disinterest.

Overall: 7/10
 Now, before you go and play this game, I suggest you get this FAQ ready, it will help you learn some moves and save a buttload of time as you're character surfing. Despite the story mode lacking depth, it's still a pretty good fighting game engine, and it looks great to boot. Mashing the default keys got tiresome to me, so I'd recommend using a gamepad for optimum oldgaming experience. The game was generously released as freeware in 2006, and it provides quite a bit of entertainment. Give it a go!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Commander Keen Maps

All of the overhead maps from the Commander Keen series!

You can get all of the level maps from here. You're welcome.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dark Ages

Dark Ages is a bit like the creepy game with a dunce-cap, banished forever to its corner to think about what it has done, only to return and immediately be shunned again. Apogee released this game in 1991, alongside some of their more popular releases. First thing you notice, you're Fabio or something, and you were exiled from your heirloom city by an evil wizard, so you have to learn how to fight and make your way through a bunch of caves and stuff finding random objects like apples to give to a wizard so he can show you the way to the next area. Sound repetitive? There's three episodes of this nonsense.

Gameplay: 4/10
So we're off to see the wizard, gotta cross this river, fall in a hole and die. Get attacked by bats and spiders, die. Touch a cobweb, die. Eventually you're going to learn to not touch a damn thing in this game, and this is one of the only times some extremely stiff controls are actually going to help you to be precise as a laser surgery. They're still stuck on the kick that all video games are pinball machines, so they keep a score tally and high score list. You have eight health points, you regain one when you've collected 10 coins, and if you die, you're given the option to save and restart from your current level, with the same amount of health and everything, liable to die again very easily. Your character (Fabio) can shoot this sonicboom-esque wave thing that barely does any damage at all, and until you pick up the powerups, you're going to need to furiously tap the ALT key if you want to get anything to die. I'm on easy mode and this game is still hard, but just for kicks I tried the third episode, and it's more of the same, except no wizard. The game is much more difficult here and you can't seem to shoot fast enough. Between all this madness, the level hazards whooping your butt, and the terrible game premise, I've taken away 6 points. When you play this game, do yourself a favor and hit F10 followed by =, it'll engage rapid fire mode and you can save yourself an ALT key.

 Graphics: 5/10
Although being pretty lame as far as creativity in the game world goes, they do a good job on the environments. Problem is, I still don't know what half of the enemies or terrain are, and they're the same thing throughout the entire length of the game. -5 points for no noticeable variety.

Sound: 4.5/10
It's the first shareware game to feature Adlib music and sound card support. The noise you make when you attack is much like an old Atari game, and it gets very annoying. The music was good, until I realized the tracks were quite sparse, but they segue nicely. A nice swish would have been a better attack sound, but the music is good. -5.5 points.

Overall: 4.25/10
It's a good thing that most people missed this one. I gave it a good try, mainly because it was super challenging, but I soon realized it was mostly impossible to play. I assume it gave Apogee a pretty sour taste in their mouths, but they didn't choose to remove it from distribution until 2009. For now, take a little bite out of Apogee's history, and download this game from the link below.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sango Fighter

 I had this game on a shareware disc, I remember playing it with only two characters, and not particularly enjoying it very much. Originally released in 1993 by a Taiwanese group, Panda Entertainment, this game was about to be released under Apogee's name but wasn't. Instead it went through an independent release and suffered miserably through every step of its life as a PC fighting game. Think about this: It's Street Fighter meets Romance of the Three Kingdoms (modern day equivalent; Dynasty Warriors) minus the strategy element.
 Gameplay: 2/10
Barely playable as a fighting game, I sat there for a little while trying to figure out what buttons to press. Figured out some hadoken style moves but couldn't really get the grasp of it, ass handed to me every time. This game feels more like a Tiger Electronics handheld LCD game, only those can be fun. There's a story mode and stuff here, but who gives a crap about all this historical stuff? -8 points for bad gaming experience.

 Graphics: 5/10
So they're vivid, the characters and backgrounds look fantastic, and the screenshots make this game look like a gem hidden in the sand. Good job, now if it could only run itself, we'd be in business. Seriously, it's so slow, so unresponsive, and always has been, -5 points on that.

Sound: 3/10
Hooray for Adlib music and digital sound, you get three points. -7 points for it all being really hard to listen to. 

Overall: 2/10
This game was released freeware style in just 2009 when a North American company picked up the rights to the game. I assume that means they purchased them, and I can tell you right now, if you choose to listen, as there are bones in your body, it was a bad idea. Unless they just go around, acquiring abandoned titles and giving them away, that's some abandonware rouge shit. All I know is that nobody bought this game back in 1993, thank god, and nobody needs to play it now, because I just wrote this review. For real, when it comes to fighting games on your PC, it might be a better plan to just go to the arcade, and the fact that I chose to do this tonight makes me cringe. Don't waste your time with Sango Fighter, unless your time consists of playing horrible games to feel better about yourself, like me.